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New housing impacts schools

When new housing developments rise in and near the Los Altos School District, district officials examine square footage, housing types and marketing to estimate the number of new students that might enter the district. Demographers use past statistics for comparable housing to develop a predicted student yield.

A complex of 30 single-family homes at the Satake Gardens site in Mountain View could yield up to 27 students.

The district’s demographer estimates that for every 10 units rented in Carmel The Village, also in Mountain View, one new student would join the district. The new 330-unit development is forecast to add 33 students to the district.

Another 133 students are expected to enroll from other housing developments within district boundaries, notably the 167 apartments and 37 townhomes scheduled for the former location of Los Altos Garden Supply along El Camino Real.

The new developments fall into several different elementary schools’ boundaries within the district, so any attendance growth should be spread over several schools.

Assistant Superintendent Randy Kenyon said new residents at The Village at San Antonio Center would attend Almond School based on current attendance maps, while those moving into the area formerly occupied by the bowling alley in Palo Alto would attend Santa Rita, as do most students who live west of San Antonio Road in Mountain View.

Apartments constructed on the former location of Los Altos Garden Supply will feed into Almond, Los Altos Gardens students would attend Santa Rita and new First Street residents would send their children to Covington.

The demographer is updating the district’s growth projection. The previous analysis estimated the district might grow from 4,500 to 4,700 students by 2014. Kenyon said that conflicting factors complicate the calculation: Birth rates in the area have decreased, but families continue to move into the district to benefit from the excellent public schools and housing projects are sprouting up.

“We’ve seen a steady trend of 1 to 2 percent growth in recent years,” he said. “Will that continue unchecked? It’s hard to know.”

Kenyon said district officials are scheduled to meet with the Mountain View City Council Feb. 12 to provide data on the possible student yield from recent housing projects. Because much of the growth is in Mountain View, subject to that council’s approval, Los Altos city officials have little or no say in the projects.

However, Zach Dahl, senior planner for Los Altos, said the city has “a pretty good rapport with the planning staff over at Mountain View,” and that Los Altos staff reviews and comments on proposed developments in Mountain View.

“The challenge is that Mountain View has much different priorities than Los Altos – Mountain View doesn’t have the problem going much denser than we do in Los Altos,” he said. “School traffic is one of our primary concerns, because we know that it will be coming into Los Altos.”

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